The Story Behind Casino Royale Bracelet
I think it was back in 2014, not so long before York Beads closed its doors, when Perry Bookstein and Kelly Stevenson decided to run a competition. Quite rightly they pointed out that so much beadwork is designed with women in mind. So what about the men who want to wear beaded jewellery?
I’m sure the bias isn’t intentional. I know not all men are comfortable wearing jewellery (although, neither are all women!). Also, I think that the often small and delicate nature of beads means that they’re not the first material of choice for jewellery designed for men. So, this presented a very interesting challenge to me.
The other criteria for the competition was that the materials used had to be materials stocked by York Beads. All the entries were to be displayed at Bead and Button show that year and a winner would be selected at the show.
Now, first challenge: an idea. A few things came together in this for me. I had not long since made my ‘High Stakes’ necklace for BOTB. So I guess that casinos were perhaps still on my mind. I wondered if I could translate some of their symbols into suitable male jewellery.
Secondly, I had repeatedly been looking at posters on the tube for a designer watch for men. The metal strap in that made me think of brick stitch with tile beads.
Thirdly, the James Bond film, ‘Casino Royale’ was still strongly in my mind.
So I put all these elements together and tried to imagine a design that Mr Bond might wear, if he were given to wearing bracelets… (Which in truth he’s probably not as they rather get in the way when you’re dealing with your enemies!).
So, I used the gunmetal tile shapes to recreate that brick stitch style design. Pyramid beads gave the bracelet a bit of texture and a hint of danger. Then, one of my dice presented itself as the perfect toggle clasp – easy to fasten, but hopefully not too feminine. It all tied nicely into the casino theme, where of course Mr Bond would feel perfectly at home. So I had to entitle this design ‘Casino Royale’.
Unsurprisingly, Casino Royale didn’t win any prizes, beyond the honour of appearing at Bead and Button and also being modelled by Kelly (and these are both great honours). I’m not sure how many men would wear it, but there’s nothing to stop it being worn by a woman either.
I enjoyed the challenge of trying to push myself in a new direction. It made me realise that the design basics needed some different consideration. Then there was the challenge of sizing jewellery for men. All of this led me to start on a project setting up a website, ‘Beads for Men’, on which the Casino Royale bracelet pattern was originally sold. Regrettably the project didn’t really come together as I had envisaged, largely because I simply didn’t have the time to devote to it. However, it gave me a new perspective and I had a lot of fun in the process.
Not to mention this was when I first got to know Kelly and Perry. If you are already familiar with the beading world, you will know what great personalities these two gentlemen are in that arena. So I hope to pass on the pleasure of ‘Casino Royale’ with this pattern.